I will admit that I initially did not intend to read the book Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture, and Computer Technology. From my various roles at my school, I thought had a solid grasp on this topic—how our technology shapes us and our faith, and how we, in turn, shape technology. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It has stretched, solidified, challenged, and changed some of my previous ideas and perceptions. This is an important and relevant read for those involved in using technology in their work or classroom, making decisions about technology, and those who teach about technology, present-day culture, or media. Aside from being a thoroughly researched approach to our digital world, this book is a great overview of computer technology, looked at through a creation, fall, and redemption framework. The many biblical references and footnotes forced me to slow my reading and consider what scripture has to say about the very computer I am using to write this review. I do have to admit that the many interesting tidbits about the history of technology, computers, and gadgets made this a bit of a “geeky-fun” read for me as well.
Schuurman opens the book with a Tertullian quote, “What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?” and paraphrases it to, “What do bytes have to do with Christian beliefs?” Throughout the book, this question is not only answered, but unpacked with many examples of technology use within a consistent framework. The “wow factor” and mystique that are often associated with the use of technology are removed and replaced with a call to not only understand technology, but also to help shape its use on this earth.
The overarching theme presented is that technology is not neutral, but is indeed infused with values and designed with a purpose for its use.